A sports field might not be a place where you would think burn injuries occur very often. However, when soccer, football, or baseball players hit the ground trying to make plays, they often get up with turf burns on their elbows or knees.
These turf burns come from the friction caused by skin sliding over grass, dirt, or artificial turf. This friction causes heat that removes several layers of skin, resulting in an abrasion often compared to the surface of a raspberry. Like many other kinds of burns, turf burns can lead to scarring and other injuries. Unfortunately, with the development of new kinds of artificial turf, these injuries are becoming more and more common, and might even be the source of life-threatening cancer risks.
Crumb-Rubber Artificial Turf Fields on the Rise
Maintaining grass fields for sports – particularly for soccer or football – is a huge investment. When grass fields are used more than a few times every week, or in the rain, the wear and tear on the field can quickly deteriorate the conditions to the point where the field is unplayable.
In an effort to avoid this situation and to preserve the water needed to keep the grass growing, many sports teams and schools have built artificial turf fields, complete with crumb-rubber filling. More than 8,000 of these fields are now in use in the United States.
Artificial Turf Increases the Risk of Turf Burns
However, while the additional resiliency of the artificial turf and rubber “dirt” makes these fields more durable, they also increase the risk of turf burns for the athletes that play on them. When an athlete dives on natural turf, the blades of real grass let his or her skin slide more, minimizing any friction that gets created from the contact.
This effect does not happen on artificial turf, particularly when the turf field is filled with crumb-rubber pellets. These pellets actually increase the friction caused from the contact because they absorb heat from the sun, making them hotter than the grass or dirt on a normal, natural field.
Possible Connection Between Artificial Turf Burns and Cancer
Unfortunately, this is not the only drawback of these new turf fields. Studies have shown an increase in the number of soccer players who have cancer, particularly cancers of the blood, like lymphoma or leukemia. This is being connected to their time on crumb-rubber fields, and the numerous turf burns they have suffered while playing on them. Scientists are still struggling to firmly connect the increase in cancer to the fields, but research is being done.
Burn Injury Attorneys at the Walker Morgan Law Firm
Turf burns are often shrugged off, especially by athletes in the heat of competition. However, they are an excellent example of the latent risks in seemingly innocuous burn injuries.
The Walker Morgan Law Firm focuses its practice on getting burn victims the compensation that they deserve. If you have suffered from a burn injury, contact us online or at (800) 922-8411.